I spend six weekends a year at a retreat for men building community through story–the story of our lives. It’s organized and facilitated by my life coach. I’ve been attending them for 6 1/2 years. When combined with the life coaching work, keeping a journal, and learning about personal growth, it has helped me grow and live more relational.
The theme of the weekend, and ultimately a framework for life, is the concept of knowing others and being known by others. The cancer of all relationships is secrets. Secrets kill relationships. We hide what we perceive to be something that nobody else is dealing with, or that which we think nobody else will understand.
What about in business?
As business owners we do the exact same thing as well. There is this unrealistic picture in our mind of what we think our business should look like so we can be seen as a successful person or a successful business. But behind closed doors and out of the spotlight of social media, businesses are barely scraping by and are not thriving the way they possibly could. Just like in relationship, secrets kill businesses.
You can do certain things to “stay afloat” in your business, such as learning good marketing skills, salesmanship, and employee management strategies. But, the weight of running a business eventually becomes overbearing and we lose our resolve resulting in burnout, and in some cases bankruptcy.
A business that keeps secrets is a sinking ship.
As I’ve learned over the past 6 1/2 years, life is best lived in a relational way where I am fully known by others and I fully know others as well. Now, I don’t go to the local department store and spill all my dirty secrets over their PA system. That’s not what I mean by being known. I’m talking about a group of people that I can share all the good parts and the bad parts, and still be accepted. Moreover, a group of people that I can receive feedback from that will help me improve and grow.
We need to do the same thing as business owners. There are also a few other elements needed to ensure the level of success we want and do it in a healthy manner.
Get A Coach
You need to have a coach. You need a guide that has done what you wish to do in business. Someone who is knowledgeable and has demonstrated that knowledge through their experiences. You need someone who can be impartial enough and will ask the hard questions you want to avoid. Someone that will lead you to where you want to go. I say coach, but this could also be a consultant or group of consultants who are experts in the various aspects you need to learn from to have a successful business. Think of them as part of the team and put them on your payroll.
You need to be reading, growing, and developing your own knowledge and skill base. I’ve never seen anyone achieve great amounts of success or personal growth who looked to others to do the work and just tell them what to do. It’s crucial that you are seeking to improve your skills and make them your own as you grow as a business owner. Take responsibility for your personal/professional growth. Therefore, read books by authors who have done it, go to conferences to improve your knowledge and get hands on training. Essentially, stop looking to others to do the work you have to do so you can get where you want to go.
We all need a group of like-minded people who are walking through the same things we are walking through. “Me” problems need “We” solutions. The group is usually made up of individuals at various stages of business. This is good because we all need to have people ahead of us that can encourage us. We also need those we are ahead of so we can be an encouragement to them. But, this group has to be honest and authentic. If you’re not honest and open about your struggles, then you’ll never really grow and get to where you want to be. This is where you will receive feedback, which is an important component to understanding you and your business better. Also, we get a better picture when we see ourselves through the eyes of others. It becomes more of a complete picture because we all have blind spots.
Don’t Fly Solo
Business doesn’t need to be a solo endeavor. In fact, it wasn’t designed to be. Neither was life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the aforementioned components and dedicating myself to a new way of living. However, there is still a lot to learn and I still have a lot of growing to do. I will always have a coach. I need it. Just as I will always have a need to develop my skills and gain knowledge. Nor will I outgrow my need for a community where I know others and I am known by others.
Keep it real. Stay vulnerable and open. No more secrets. Share your victories and your failures. You’ll learn more as a result, especially with the latter.
(originally posted on Level10Living.co.uk)